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Jennifer Swift

Associate Professor (Teaching) of Spatial Sciences

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-5841
Office: AHF B57D
Office Hours: Tues., Thurs. : 2 hours per dayTues., Thurs. : 2 hrs per day

Curriculum Vitae
Faculty Profile on Departmental Website
Personal Website
Course Information
Spatial Sciences Institute at USC
GIST Programs at USC
Jennifer N. Swift - LinkedIn

Biographical Sketch

Jennifer Swift is Associate Professor (Teaching) of Spatial Sciences the Spatial Sciences Institute (SSI) of the University of Southern California. She serves as the Program Director of the USC SSI Esri Development Center (EDC), which she has done since 2013.  

Swift has developed and taught novel online graduate courses in the USC Graduate Programs in Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST) and teaches web GIS and GIS programming and customization. She oversees many Master’s theses and other graduate research projects conducted within the GIST Program. As the founding Director of Graduate Studies for the GIST programs, Swift developed key systems and protocols to ensure that SSI staff and faculty utilize high-quality teaching practices, deliver compelling learning experiences, and seek out and share innovative research opportunities for all SSI students. She also created and taught a new undergraduate course in geographic information (GI) science contributing to the minor in Spatial Studies and the B.S. in GeoDesign. Additionally, she leads a core class in spatial databases the M.S. in Spatial Informatics degree offered jointly by the Spatial Sciences Institute and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Department of Computer Science.

The focus of Swift’s research is at the intersection of web and mobile GIS with CyberGIS, the latter including advanced cyberinfrastructure. These emerging technological trends including the use of “Big Data” and evolving geoprivacy concerns should now be considered core elements of the GI sciences. Swift is particularly interested in developing pedagogical innovations in the use of 3D and time-enabled geospatial technologies in teaching, and in improving methods for teaching programming skills across GI science as a discipline. Advanced scientific understanding and skill in these core geospatial technologies are now fundamental to preparing students to excel in the evolving GIST workforce.

Before joining the Spatial Sciences Institute, Swift was a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Southern California from 2001 to 2009; from 2000 to 200, she was a Research Associate postdoc within the same department. In her early academic career (1996-1999), she was as an Assistant Professor of Earthquake Engineering at Bogaziçi University, in Istanbul, Turkey.



Ph.D. Geophysics, Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey, 1995
M.S. Geology, University of Northern Illinois, Illinois, 1989
B.S. Geochemistry, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, 1984

Postdoctoral Training

Research Associate, University of Southern California, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2000-2001  

Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

Non-Tenure Track Appointments

Associate Professor (Teaching), University of Southern California, Spatial Sciences Institute, 06/06/2013-05/15/2016  
Assistant Professor (Teaching), University of Southern California, Spatial Sciences Institute , 2011-2013  
Assistant Professor (Teaching), University of Southern California, Department of Geography, 2009-2011  
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, 2001-2009  
Assistant Professor, Department of Earthquake Engineering, Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute, Bogaziçi University, 1996-1999  

PostDoctoral Appointments

Research Associate, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, 2000-2001  

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

My research involves collaborative, cross-disciplinary projects that focus on five areas: (1) web GIS and mobile tool development of spatial decision support tools for social media risk and geoprivacy, evaluation of recreational open space, and biological cataloging and conservation; (2) development of information architectures for enterprise geodatabase organization and dissemination of spatial data, such as geotechnical and geophysical data; (3) designing web-based map services for online volunteered geographic information data gathering tools, digital libraries and archives, and assessment of cloud-based versus local server architectures to support these types of projects; (4) development of teaching innovations in online and residential classrooms and field data gathering methodologies in the spatial sciences, both in technology and pedagogy; and (5) measuring the impact of the web and mobile devices on students’ learning and how this affects how we teach spatial thinking across disciplines. Examples of past research activities in spatial analysis include assessments of the spatio-temporal earthquake vulnerability and risk in the Los Angeles area, recharge suitability analyses in southern California, and data modeling projects involving participation in development of US-British geotechnical and geophysical data dictionaries, XML Schemas, centrifuge data dictionary and model, and supporting schema-handling programming for engineering data modeling.

Research Keywords

Cloud, Data, Database, Earthquake, GIS, Geographic Information Science, Geoprivacy, Information Technology, IT, Mobile, Modeling, Programming, Spatial, Teaching, Vulnerability, Web

Research Specialties

GIS Web Tool Development • GIS Mobile Application Development • Innovative Online & Flipped Teaching Methodologies • Social Media Risk Awareness / Geoprivacy • GIS Desktop Customization • Spatial Analysis • Database Design • Data Modeling / Metadata • Earthquake Vulnerability / Risk Assessment

Funded Research

Contracts and Grants Awarded

Development of a management system and geographic interface for biological resource data (Dept Defense Natural Resource Legacy Grant Program), Travis Loncore, $100,000, 2009-2011  
RUASI Risk Gap Analysis (MLC & Associates, Costa Mesa CA), John P. Wislon, $40,000, 2009-2010   
Development and Testing of Geocoding Services for the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (Northrop Grumman & Centers Disease Control Prevent), John Wislon, Jennifer Swift, $130,000, 2008-2009  
Modification of the COSMOS-PEER LL Pilot GVDC System Architecture and Implementation, Task 2L03 (COSMOS and PEER Program of Applied Earthquake Eng.), Jennifer Swift, $25,650, 2005-2008  
Upper Los Angeles River: Recharge Suitability Analysis (Mountains Restoration Trust), John Wislon, $80,000, 2006-2007  
Phase III of Green Visions Plan for 21st Century Southern California, a non-regulatory habitat cons (Wildlife Conservation Agency), Jennifer Wolch, John Wislon, Travis Loncore and Jennifer Swift, $397,800, 2006-2007   
Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Supplement to NSF HSD Award (National Science Foundation), John Wilson, Jennifer Swift, $6,000, 2006-2007   

USC Funding

2011-2012 NTT Faculty Development Grant. USC GIST Courses and Program Development: Support for faculty course and program development., $1,500, 06/23/2011-06/23/2012  
University of Southern California WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering). Establishing a National Geotechnical and Geophysical Virtual Data Center at USC: Major Support for Faculty, $15,000, 2006-2009  
USC Undergraduate Research Associates Program (URAP). Characterization of Traffic Proximity to Children and Associated Environmental Justice Socioeconomics: Summer 2009, $6,000, 2008-2009   
Undergraduate Research Funds (SURF) . Socio-economic Disparities in Health Costs of School Proximity to Major Transportation Networks: USC Office of the College Dean, Summer 2009, $6,000, 2008-2009   
USC Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Southern California Soil Mapping and Soil Data Utilization in the USC GIS Research Laboratory: Southern California Soil Mapping and Soil Data Utilization in the USC GIS Research Laboratory, $3,000, 2007-2008   
USC Undergraduate Research Program, Summer 2007. Collaborative Project: Development of a Web-Based Hydrologic Information System: Collaborative Project: Development of a Web-Based Hydrologic Information System, $6,000, 2007-2008   

Affiliations with Research Centers, Labs, and Other Institutions

USC B.S. In Geodesign, Associate Professor (Teaching),
USC Graduate Programs in Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST), Associate Professor (Teaching),
USC M.S. in Spatial Informatics (SPIF), Associate Professor (Teaching),
USC Spatial Sciences Institute Esri Development Center (EDC), Program Director,

Conferences and Other Presentations

Conference Presentations

"Student Projects: Emergency Response, Collector &", 2014 Esri Education GIS Conference, San Diego CA, Talk/Oral Presentation, Abstract,, USC Spatial Sciences Institute, 07/13/2014  
"Teaching Mobile GIS with Esri ArcGIS Runtime SDK for Android", 2014 Esri Education User Conference, San Diego, CA, Talk/Oral Presentation, Abstract,, USC Spatial Sciences Institute, 07/12/2014  
"Modeling Coffee-Berry-Borer (CBB) Establishment and Spread in Hawaii with Python (with Flora Paganelli* and Karen Kemp)", 2013 Esri User Conference, Talk/Oral Presentation, Abstract,, USC Spatial Sciences Institute, 07/10/2013  
"ArcGIS Server Hosted on Local Virtual Machines vs Cloud (EC2) (with Flora Paganelli)", 2013 Esri Education User Conference, San Diego CA, Talk/Oral Presentation, Abstract,, Sponsor: Spatial Science Institute, 07/09/2013  
"The Impact of Web and Mobile GIS on How We Teach", American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, Talk/Oral Presentation, Abstract,, USC Spatial Sciences Institute, 04/13/2013  
"Models of Online Learning: What's Old, What's New?", American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, Roundtable/Panel,, Geography Education Specialty Group, and USC SSI, Invited, 04/12/2013  
"GIS and Spatial Thinking Across Disciplines", USC Faculty Forum: Spatial Thinking and GIS Mapping Technologies Across Disciplines, Talk/Oral Presentation,, USC Center for Scholarly Technology, Invited, 11/16/2012  
"At the Forefront: GIST Graduate Programs Spatial Sciences Institute (SSI) @ USC", Los Angeles County GIS Day, Talk/Oral Presentation,, Spatial Sciences Institute, 11/14/2012  
"USC Beta Tests Esri’s ArcGIS Server "Campus Edition" Online Courses", 2012 Esri Education User Conference, San Diego CA, Talk/Oral Presentation, Abstract,, USC Spatial Sciences Institute, 07/21/2012-07/26/2012  
"GIS Education Programs Panel", Second Annual Los Angeles Geospatial Summit 2012, Roundtable/Panel,, USC Spatial Sciences Institute, Invited, 04/30/2012  
"Pedagogical Challenges Adapting Graduate Geography Courses to Online Curriculums", American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, 2012, New York, NY, Talk/Oral Presentation, Abstract,, USC: GIST Faculty Professional Development Grant, 02/25/2012  
"Proximity Analysis Web Map Viewer (& Live Online Demo)", Burden of Disease, Talk/Oral Presentation, USC, Los Angeles, at HSC, October 17-18, 2011, South Coast Air Quality Management District , Invited, 10/17/2011  
"Advanced Technologies in the Virtual Classroom - University of Southern California Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST) Graduate Program", CUNY 9th Annual IT Conference 2010, Talk/Oral Presentation, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, Citrix Systems, Inc., Invited, 12/03/2010  
"Desktop Management Simplified With Desktop Virtualization – USC GIST Graduate Program. ", Texas Community College Technology Forum 2010, Talk/Oral Presentation, Collin College, Plano, TX, Citrix Systems, Inc., Invited, 11/05/2010  
"Mapping the Health Risks of NOx Traffic Emissions for Schools in Los Angeles County", Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, Poster, Abstract, San Diego, California, USC, 2008-2009   
"Green Visions Digital Soil Map", Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, Poster, Abstract, Long Beach, California, USC, 2007-2008   

Other Presentations

"USC MS and Certificate GIST Programs and the Fifth Annual Geospatial Summit", USC MS and Certificate GIST Programs and the Fifth LA County Health GIS Quarterly Meeting, Los Angeles County Health Department, Los Angeles, CA, 02/2015  
"USC GIST Graduate Programs’ Course and Technology Demo", USC GIST Webinar: Daniel Warshawsky and Jennifer Swift, USC-Embanet-Compass,, 07/31/2013  
"Meet the Faculty - New Track Focus", USC GIST Webinar: Darren Ruddell, Karen Kemp, Jennifer Swift and Darlene Lakes, USC-Embanet-Compass,, 06/05/2013  
"Creating An Outstanding Resume - A Guide for GIST Graduates.", USC GIST Webinar: J O'Connor, R MacNab, J Swift, USC-Embanet-Compass,, 10/23/2012  
"Introduction to USC Career Services & What We Do - Helping GIST Graduates Find Jobs & Internships", USC GIST Webinar: D Johnson, J Swift, USC-Embanet-Compass,, 10/02/2012  
"Using Los Angeles Regional Imagery Acquisition Consortium (LAR-IAC) Data in GIST Courses and MS Thesis Research", USC GIST Webinar: D Peck, J Swift, USC-Embanet-Compass ,, 07/10/2012  
"Introducing Los Angeles Regional Imagery Acquisition Consortium (LAR-IAC) Data", USC GIST Webinar: M Greninger, D Goldberg and J Swift, USC-Embanet-Compass ,, 03/22/2012  
"Required Courses: A Closer Look at USC GIST Programs’ Required Courses.", USC GIST Webinar: Q&A Session - J Swift, K Kemp, D Ruddell, USC-Embanet-Compass,, 09/27/2011  
"Meet the Faculty of the GIST Programs", USC-GIST Webinar: Meet the Faculty of the GIST Programs - J Swift, J Hastings, D Ruddell, USC-Embanet-Compass,, 08/23/2011  
"USC Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST) Online Graduate Programs ", Geospatial Jobs and the 2010 Economy - Thursday, January 21, 2010 , Directions Magazine, Directions Magazine Online Webinar:, 2009-2010   


Journal Article

Weidemann, C., Swift, J. N. (2013). Social Media Location Intelligence: The next Privacy Battle – An ArcGIS add-in and Analysis of Geospatial Data Collected from International Journal of Geoinformatics. Vol. 9 (2), pp. 21-27.
Swift, J. N., Le, T. N., Wilson, J. P. (2012). Estimated Temporal Variation of Losses Due to a Recurrence of the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake. Earthquake Spectra. Vol. 28 (1), pp. 347-365. EERI


Ngo, V., Swift, J. N., Chiang, Y. (2015). Visualizing Land Reclamation in Hong Kong: A Web Application. Rio de Janeiro. Proceedings of the 27th International Cartographic Conference, 16th General Assembly.

Multimedia Scholarship and Creative Works

Interactive Online Mapping Application, Mapping neighborhood scale traffic emissions in Southern California. Developed pilot proximity analysis web map viewer, using Esri ArcGIS Server and Flex., 2011-2012   

Service to the University

Administrative Appointments

Director of Graduate Studies, 05/16/2014-05/15/2015  
Director of Graduate Studies, 05/16/2013-05/15/2014  
Director of Graduate Studies, 05/16/2012-05/15/2013  
Director of Graduate Studies, 05/16/2011-05/15/2012  


Member, Committee on Work and Family Life, University of Southern California, 2015-2016  
Member, USC GeoDesign Undergraduate Committee, 2011-2016  
Member, Spatial Sciences Institute Executive Committee. Consists of the directors of SSI, the GIST Programs, the Undergraduate Degree Program, and the SSI Research team., 2013-2015  
Chair, USC Spatial Sciences Institute Server & IT Working Group, 2011-2014  
Co-Chair, USC Spatial Sciences Institute Spatial Roundtable, University of Southern California, 2012-2013  
Member, University of Southern California Task Force on Graduate Education, 2005-2006   

Other Service to the University

Program Director, Esri Development Center (EDC), USC Spatial Sciences Institute:, 2012-2016  

Service to the Profession


Member, Education Committee, University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), 2014-2016  
Member, GIS Education Community Advisory Board, Esri Education User Conference, San Diego CA, 07/2015  

Conferences Organized

Member of Organizing Committee, COSMOS Workshop on Data Archiving and Web Dissemination of Geotechnical Data II, Newport Beach, CA, 06/21/2004-06/23/2004  
Member of Organizing Committee, Workshop on COSMOS Data Archiving and Web Dissemination of Geotechnical Data , Richmond, CA, 10/04/2001-10/05/2001  

Editorships and Editorial Boards

Co-Editor, COSMOS Workshop on Archiving and Web Dissemination of Geotechnical Data, Richmond, CA, October 4-5, 2001. PEER, COSMOS Publication No. CP-2001/03: 1-3, 2001  

Professional Offices

Board of Directors. Director representing education., California Geographic Information Association (CGIA), 2014-2015  

Professional Memberships

National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) VIP Woman of the Year Circle, 2015  
Association of American Geographers (AAG), 2012-2015  
American Society of Civil Engineers (ACSE), 2005-2015  
American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2004-2015  
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), 2003-2015  
Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG), 2001-2015  
Consortium of Organizations for Strong-Motion Observation Systems (COSMOS), 2001-2015  
Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) Consortium, Inc., 2003-2010  

Other Service to the Profession

Certified GIS Professional (GISP) by the US GIS Certification Institute, 2015  
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